“We need to create Games with an African Context….no one else will” -alternative soundbites from Alterconf Lagos
For the first time ever, Alterconf, a travelling global conference was held in Africa, on July 1, 2017. Alterconf highlights the powerful voices and positive initiatives of local community members and was founded by Ashe Dryden in 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Anchored on the theme Diversity and Inclusion with some slight emphasis on tech and gaming, the conference held in Lagos, Nigeria at Workstation (a co-working space in Victoria Island).
The conference featured 10 speakers across the tech and gaming industries delivering critical discussions on tech, gaming culture and also presented their vision on what the coding and web development community can be.
Keynote speaker was the Chief Executive, Tourism Edge Consultants and one-time Director General of Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Omotayo Omotosho (MFR). She encouraged all attendees to be proud of what they do as developers building the country.
“There is so much beauty in being able to sell your country in which ever way you know, because if you do not do this, no one else will and we will continue to be relegated. The beauty of those of us that appreciate technology is to use it to promote our country. What you are doing is honourable; it is dignifying and more than needed in this country. Keep at it!”
She also recounted her successful experience as Director General of NTDC to further encourage participants to realize why hard circumstances should not deter them from success.
Other speakers at the conference discussed topics ranging from strategic products and services for African markets to entrepreneurial advice for developers and gamers. Women in tech also got a fair share of attention as issues based on challenges women face in the tech environment wer discussed.
“We need to create games with an African context. In 2009, a review of 150 games showed that only 10% of characters were black and of these, 80% were either gangsters or athletes in one form or another. When you lift up the covers of what is the game industry, you find out that it is predominantly white. 85% of people who work in the gaming industry are white males. The remaining are blacks. So, because they do not have the context on what it is to be black, they work with stereotypes. If we are not careful, they will continue to sell wrong narratives. Though there is a lot of negative perception around games in this part of the world, we have to gamify the African experience”, he said.
Tale Alimi led a discussion on the topic, How to Leverage Tech as a Woman without losing your Feminity. She dropped points which bordered on brand presentation, conscious voice and engagement and the need for women to have a unique identity which the industry instantly recognizes, when it sees you, even as a female.
According to Tale, “You have to clearly understand what your message is and, then, use technology as a vehicle to share it.”
Adewale Yusuf, CEO Techpoint, quickly recounted his story as a security guard now living in the very estate he used to guard. He spoke on the topic Building a Successful Business in Nigeria. He advised entrepreneurs to build a team and not staff; focus on the product, rather than the branding; start small, then iterate. Yusuf also advised startups not to ignore the media.
Other notable speakers present were Banke Alawaye whose work at www.praekelt.org continues to add to her experience in social impact projects and the application of mobile solutions to development issues; Ajibola Amzat, features editor of The Guardian newspaper, Lagos; Elohor Thomas, a software developer; Frank Akogun, a ‘Jack-of-all-trade’ developer; Olamilekan Wahab, a student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and part time software developer at Terragon Group, Code Institute and LucyNG, among others.
Brian Oyewole, one of the organizers of the event, said the struggles he faced at the beginning of his career prompted him to organize the event.
“I had issues building a simple business online, because I could not easily find somebody to help me with coding. I am not saying there were no people to do this in Lagos, but I needed it to be more accessible. I feel that with events like this, accessibility to proper coders and developers will be made easier”, he said.
While a job fair featured alongside the event, in all, Alterconf Lagos 2017 was an examination of alternative topics rarely discussed at many other Lagos conferences, in recent times.
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Chiamaka Akuba33 Posts
Chiamaka Akuba is a graduate of Mass Communication of the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She is passionate about emerging markets and entrepreneurship and is actively working with the industry. She loves her conversations challenging and can’t help laughing when you call her ‘Honourable Writer of the Federal Republic'. Chiamaka is a Staff Writer at Outrepreneurs.